McRobbie appoints Dolson as next AD

Scott Dolson was the lead student manager for Bob Knight’s Indiana basketball team in 1988.

He’s about to become the leader of IU’s athletic department, pending approval by the board of trustees in April.

IU President Michael McRobbie appointed Dolson as IU’s next athletic director Tuesday, replacing Fred Glass, who is set to retire at the end of the academic year. Dolson has been IU’s deputy director and chief operating officer of intercollegiate athletics since 2009.

Dolson was recommended to McRobbie by a 14-person search committee, led by vice president for government relations Bill Stephan. Continuity was a major selling point for Dolson’s hire, and his long history with the department ended up setting him apart from a pool of about 50 applicants.

“I think the search committee recognized that the athletic department and the programs within athletics are sound and moving in the right direction. They are on the right trajectory,” Stephan said. “There was a lot of consideration given to how we maintain that momentum and how much Scott has been intimately involved in a lot of the progress that’s been made in the last decade or so.”

Dolson, a native of Michigan City, started working for IU’s Varsity Club in 1989 and worked his way up to director, a title he still holds. That has made him a major player in the program’s fundraising efforts. As deputy AD, Dolson has overseen internal and external operations for the athletic department.

Dolson also directly oversees the men’s basketball program.

“Given his background and experience in helping to oversee the recent growth and development of nearly every major area of IU’s large athletics operation, Scott is extremely well-positioned to lead our intercollegiate athletics program and further its longstanding and storied traditions of excellence as well as build on Fred Glass’ outstanding achievements of the last 10 years,” McRobbie said in a statement.

“For more than two decades at IU, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensuring that our student-athletes achieve success both on and off the field, compete within the rules and represent IU with passion, integrity and distinction.”

The board of trustees will vote on Dolson’s hire during its next meeting, which is currently scheduled for April 8-9 at IU Northwest. Dolson is scheduled to take over for Glass at the start of the next academic year, sometime in August.

He will enter during a period of some unrest for college sports. Not only have their been issues surrounding athletes profiting off of their name, image, and likeness, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancelations of championship events and the entire 2020 spring season has created even more uncertainty about how athletic departments will cope.

“You can make the argument, given the current circumstances, it would not be the right time to bring in someone who is totally unfamiliar with the institution,” Stephan said. “You need someone who is sensitive to what’s at play right now for our student athletes.”

Many of the achievements Glass is given credit for, Dolson has played some role. He helped oversee strategic planning for more than $150 million in facility construction and renovation as part of the university’s Bicentennial Facilities master plan, including Memorial Stadium’s north end zone, Bart Kaufman Field, Andy Mohr Field, Cook Hall, Wilkinson Hall, and the renovation of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

There are also upcoming projects for the new Pfau Course and renovations to Armstrong Stadium.

As far as coaches are concerned, Glass has reshaped the ranks during his tenure. Football’s Tom Allen just received a seven-year contract in December following an eight-win campaign. Both men’s and women’s basketball, under the control of Archie Miller and Teri Moren, respectively, were on track to make the NCAA tournament fields that were never named.

Glass has also been given credit for improving the university’s graduation rates since his appointment in 2009 — a success that Dolson will surely be tasked with continuing.

“Scott also fully understands that our athletics program must continue to be integrated into the university in all ways,” McRobbie said. “He knows that our student athletes are, first and foremost, students, who are here to develop their athletics prowess while also earning a world-class education that will have an enormous impact on the rest of their lives.”

Being a known quantity helped Dolson during this process. The 14-person search committee included multiple coaches, including Moren, men’s soccer’s Todd Yeagley, and swimming’s Ray Looze.

They were all approving of Dolson’s leadership to this point, Stephan said.

“They all attested to his leadership, his effectiveness, and the results of his approach in dealing with issues,” Stephan said. “At the end of the day, as a committee, we were all interested in bringing to bear candidates that were going to be highly qualified, skilled, and experienced. You have to ask yourself ‘Is this the right fit for Indiana University? Do they understand the culture, the values, that are part and parcel of what we are all about?’

“Scott was the right fit. We thought his leadership style would be appropriate for what we are looking for going forward, maintaining the momentum and the trajectory we are on.”

30 comments

  1. Yawn.

    More of the same. Well, at least on paper.

    Scott is good at raising money, though.

    We’ll see.

  2. Fred Glass 2.0. Nice guy, been strongly rumored for awhile. No surprise and very much biz as usual.

  3. I U is all his working history with no real AD experience, a quick hire by the President McRobbie to fill the position in house. Many questions and concerns lurking in the next few years in college athletics that will need real tough decisions making person with previous AD experience will be needed, not happy with the decision.

  4. This was the safe choice and with the current state of the world probably makes sense. Who knows how long this will go on so getting something done now is the right move. Would have loved to see Chris Reynolds in that position.

  5. McRobbie doesn’t give a flip about athletics. Finds it a nuisance. He just wants someone who can maximize the gravy train and stay out of trouble. Could be worse. But Indiana is going to need to continue to invest hard to compete in the B1G. This is an extremely safe move in an environment that rewards the bold.

  6. I agree with DD, McRobbie does not really care about athletics. To him, athletics are at best a third-tier priority. I believe that in McRobbie’s perfect world, college athletics would nothing more than a collection of club teams.

    When I read statements like “Scott knows that our student athletes are, first and foremost, students, who are here to develop their athletics prowess while also earning a world-class education that will have an enormous impact on the rest of their lives,” I believe he really means it. But I wonder if the Presidents of Universities with the most successful Athletic Departments share the same beliefs. Or do those Presidents place, in relative terms, far greater emphasis on revenue-producing athletics like football? You know that football players at Clemson, LSU, Alabama, etc. are NOT “first and foremost students.” The majority didn’t enroll at those schools to get a “world-class education,” they’re there to play football. Many of the BB players at Kentucky did not enroll there to get an education, they went there to play basketball. Some college FB and BB players at those schools are smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity and get their education, but the majority are recruited to make money for the school and fund other athletic programs populated by real student-athletes.

    I guess what I’m suggesting is that perhaps McRobbie’s belief, as stated above, puts IU Athletics at a disadvantage. Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe those comments stem from being a frustrated IU FB fan for so many decades.

    1. ” Some college FB and BB players at those schools are smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity and get their education, but the majority are recruited to make money for the school and fund other athletic programs populated by real student-athletes.” I’ve news for you, PO. IU is no different than any of “those schools.” For 2008-2011 for B1G football players:
      Northwestern: 99%
      Minnesota: 89%
      Michigan: 87%
      Wisconsin: 86%
      Maryland: 84%
      Indiana: 83%
      Nebraska: 82%
      Michigan State: 82%
      Penn State: 82%
      Illinois: 81%
      Iowa: 80%
      Rutgers: 78%
      Purdue: 77%
      Ohio State: 64%
      That’s the most recent four year class I could find for just football, but you get the picture: IUFB is right there in the middle bunching of seven schools between 80 and 85%. Of course, this tells nothing about how any of these players actually took advantage of the world-class educations available at all of these schools. A lot of these degrees were probably in curricula that might charitably be described as “less than rigorous.”

      And yeah, Dolson seems to be a remarkably uninspired choice.

  7. All in the Family. And that’s the way it should be. Student to get an education first. Athlete no matter how close to first, should be second.

    1. That’s twice today I find myself in 100% agreement with you to.
      Winning isn’t everything, especially if you have to cheat to do it, or give fake degrees, etc.

  8. If University Presidents were really serious about their scholarship athletes being real students, they would eliminate the many worthless degree programs that so many Universities now offer. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t see how allowing students to get degrees in curricula described using the word “Studies” will have “an enormous impact on the rest of their lives.” If a student’s college degree doesn’t prepare them to get/keep a good job and have a successful career upon graduation, or gives them any advantage over less educated people, then why do Universities offer such degree programs? Many students would have a greater chance of long-term success being educated in one of the trades as compared to earning a degree in “Gender Studies” (rated the most worthless college degree available).

    1. I think if university presidents were truly serious, they would sharply curtail or even eliminate special admissions for athletes. Granted, many young people who have not been focused on academics are forever benefitted by the opportunity to attend a four year university, but they do take slots from more qualified applicants. Extending admissions via the lessening of standards is the beginning of that.

      Does IU still offer a degree in General Studies? For many years, I know IU was one of the few Big Ten schools to offer such a major. Does that fulfill the mission of the University? I don’t know the answer to that.

    2. Po, what would you think of a degree “Reading History”? That would be from Oxford University, England! That degree does not help in getting or keeping a “job”. You will be much advanced intellectually and academically beyond your companies owner or general manager. But what an experience!

  9. And then there is the unemployed computer whatever area grad. Often it just depends on the individual.

  10. Unless I’m missing something, Dolson offers continuity, and actual day to day knowledge of how and what needs to get done. I don’t understand the negativity? The guy’s been actively involved for decades, the last few at the highest level. I cannot think of anyone that may have been under consideration (including CR) that would have been as good, let alone better. As for Robbie,…what do you expect him to say? I’m relieved. At least he didn’t hire that 60 year old Scottish seminarian that loved soccer. You guys are always ‘preaching’ Barry Alvarez type continuity,..well, here it is!

    1. Brad I parallel your thoughts totally. 1st this man is IU through and through. 2nd learning under Knight he’s been tested and hardened by by fire. 3rd he’s been the lead administrator of the BB program. 4th he’s been the COO of the fundraising, renovation, expansion and facility additions for years. He’s experienced mistakes from there ‘get go’ and the end results of successes. Where else would you find better IU experience for IU. His brand will show he has differences from the brand built by FG. Main positive is he’ll deal with the Pres. differently because he is not an attorney. In a year a new Pres. may bring a better vibe than McRobbie does and Dolson can push harder for enhancements he desires. But I think most strongly this way, if you liked the total job Glass has recorded (I do) you’ll think Dolson is a good hire. If all you’ve done is loathe and bitch about Glass you’ll hate this hire from the announcement.

  11. I don’t know Dolson but do understand he will show us what he values as an AD. I was hoping to have an AD with a strong background in managing a football program but Dolson may show us he understands the need of having a strong football program; while continuing to enhance the IUFB program.

  12. Brad, are you satisfied with where IU Athletics is currently at? Are you satisfied where IU athletics has been over the last 20 years? If your answer is “no,” then I think you understand why some people are “negative” about this choice. I have no idea if this guy is any good or not and therefore I am not negative on him being appointed AD. I like the fact that he got great exposure to Bob Knight when he was a student. Bob Knight was/is a winner. I like the fact that he is an IU alumni. Loving the University is important. But no one knows if this guy has the horse power to lead IU Athletics to the next level of success, hence the concern and negativity you refer to. Glass did some things well, but overall, I will forever see him as a risk-averse “manager” and not the LEADER that IU needed. Maybe Dolson, having been influenced by Knight, will turn out to be a great leader.

    The best indication of future performance is past performance.

    1. PD: I thought the discussion revolved around the quality of Glass’ replacement? To answer your questions re ‘how I might feel about the last 20 years?’. Men’s basketball program has become embarrassing. Worst wrestling program in BIG. Baseball, fabulous, T & F, S & D still very respectable, Women’s basketball vastly better, Allen has exceeded off and on the field, my expectations. There is likely NO ONE that has a better ‘feel’ for what, and most importantly, HOW to get the needed improvements we all crave. Knight didn’t agree to come back but for the persistant urging from one guy, Scott Dolson.

  13. A least for the short term, athletics may down the list of concerns. A number of states starting to voice “school may be over for the year’. Guessing they mean the current school year, not the calendar year. Just a bucket full of issues on the horizon challenging college sports. Mr. Dolson and other ADs will have their hands full of issues. Good luck Mr. Dolson.

  14. At this point, I’m not sure what to make of this appointment. Sometimes things can surprise us, both for good and bad. The only thing I can say is, “The sooner McRobbie is out of IU, the better.” My bigger concern at this point is the BOT. The real problem for IU athletics as well as IU in general, has historically been the BOT.

    The focus should be mainly upon who the Indiana Governor is appointing to the BOT, and who the IU alumni are voting for to be trustees. The Gov. controls 6 of the 9 and the alumni vote on 3. They have the final approval on who will be the University President. Let’s hope the BOT gets this one right, it has been a very long time since they have.

  15. And Elites living their lives and everyone is happy. If you’re not elite you don’t count.

    NFL quarterbacks @ around 40 years old signing one year contracts at 30 million and 25 million, respectively. That’s not my complaint. However, my complaint is: build your own stadiums and all related costs that go with them A to Z. Owners, gang member boards, companies, government/politicians quit raping society of money thru taxes and corporate welfare AND PAY YOUR OWN BILLS. Then, if you still have the money to pay a trillion dollars to a quarterback/ player after paying your own bills and you decide to do that there is no complaint from me. Everybody enjoy their sports as when the challenges like we currently have, society is financially unprepared due to decisions of how money and wealth has been distributed throughout society for many years. This is just one of many examples.
    I don’t want to hear about the corrupt phony statistics how professional sports benefit and bring wealth to society. What I see are more struggles, crime, and hardships placed on the financial middle class and lower classes of society.

    1. T, I am with you about wealthy owners paying for their stadium and the rest of the cost of running an NFL team.

    2. t: Most would agree on corporate welfare but how does that pertain to Scott Dolson or the price of eggs in Ft. Ritner?

  16. Nobody cares about presidents or AD’s when winning is happening.

    I agree with everything you stated, t. Corporate welfare and corporate “socialism” has run this country into the ground for last 40-50 years. These are all, basically, ‘gang member’ hires.

    Presidents and AD’s don’t win basketball and football games. They can certainly stymie progress (e.g. Glass’s destruction of a decade by clinging to an incompetent basketball coach; a coach who was allowed to part of a committee to hire his own AD), but their importance is magnified because we have no “winning” to bask.

    Nobody cared about the AD or president of IU during our heyday in hoops when we were going to Final Fours every five years. All the power resided in Bob Knight. When a coach becomes a true winner and proves his value, these so-called “powerful” players/elitists of big business have their limelight and roles diminished.

    The last thing you want when you’re an athletic director or president of a university is to be making headlines. If you have to be putting forth extra marketing efforts, organize reunions, etc…while seeing your name in constantly HT posts highlighting the building of a new “this” …and a new “that”…and this “new” student bill of rights…and that renaming of a stadium, etc, etc., you know what it all basically adds up to? Answer: Your programs aren’t winning. Your programs aren’t stacking up to the rest of Conference Midwest Elite. Your programs are arguing that a sub .500 conference record are new standards of greatness.

    AD’s in the news? All it tells me is that things suck and people aren’t doing their jobs. What they are basically doing is pouring big money into marketing mediocrity. The best run sports programs don’t need the AD’s and presidents in the headlines.

    Assembly Hall is now almost 1/2 century old. If Glass wanted a crowning achievement in the 10 years he killed with Crean by his side, it should have been to build a beautiful new basketball arena. Instead, he put some skybox birdhouses for the wealthy and did a hodgepodge so a sport once identifying our common threads to each other could, instead, be used to highlight economic class division.

    I’ve lost all hope for IU Basketball…Never had any for IU Football. When the leadership gets the headlines….and everything is about “committee rooms” (which is a clever way to say every hire is built on nepotism), there is no reason to hope.
    When winning happens, these dimwits disappear (as they should because it implies they’re doing their job).

  17. “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” The Self Righteous Wealthy Elites create, manufacture, market a means to gain, grow, sustain personal wealth and only those chosen often based on nepotism enter circle that becomes such an imbalance of scale detrimental to ruin the rest of society eventually ruining themselves because there is that society no more.

  18. Harv, at your next Animal Farm Meeting, can you spend a few hours teaching t how to take the sin out of his syntax? Sometimes, I think he’s just a Russian bot trying to learn English. Then I realized that there is no way any Russian bot would be that interested in women’s college basketball .

  19. I enjoy t immensely. t tells it like it is. I pity the fool who messes with Mr. t…

    I do love your wit and sense of humor as well, DoubleDown. Hope all of you stay sane and healthy.

  20. Let’s just remind ourselves that this is a forum to discuss IU Athletics. Some times comments begin to drift a little too far into politics. This site should be a refuge from political discussions/debates.

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